Hosea is a prophet called by God to speak to his prosperous people about their problem with idolatry. In their great wealth they stopped depending on God. Instead, they trusted on their own might, their own wealth, and their own alliances with other nations. Therefore, what God says he must do is show the people that what they trust in cannot save them. Israel thinks their wealth will save them, but God will take that wealth. Israel thinks their alliances will save them, but God will show those alliances to be futile. Israel thinks that people can rescue them from their troubles and refuse to look to God for help.
What is sad is that God would have healed and restored the people (Hosea 7:1). The people said the words that the Lord would heal them and they were right. God would have healed them and restored them. So why were they not healed by the Lord? God would heal them but they kept sinning. The people would not stop their sins to receive the healing God could bring to their lives and to the nation. Their sins ever stood before God’s eyes (7:2) God saw what the people were doing and was not fooled by their words of repentance. God saw what happened in the darkness. God saw what happened in their homes. God saw the things that the people thought no one saw. God saw and he refused to heal because the people continued their sins. “But they do not consider that I remember all their evil” (7:2).
This is the problem we have before God. We need our evil erased. When we think about how our evil stands before the eyes of the Lord, it is to cause us to truly repent and not just say the words. Saying the words will not erase our sins. Looking like a Christian does not remove the evil from before God’s eyes. True repentance will lead to true healing which leads to the erasing of our sins. The problem is described more clearly in Hosea 7:3-7. The people delight in wickedness. None of them call out to the Lord from sincere hearts (7:7). They are hot for sins. They want their sins and do not want God. So they are not healed. Their arrogance prevents them from returning to the Lord (7:10). The words of verses 11-16 are simply painful and stunning. Look at verse 13.
Woe to them, for they have strayed from me! Destruction to them, for they have rebelled against me! I would redeem them, but they speak lies against me. (Hosea 7:13 ESV)
God cannot redeem his people because they are full of lies. God wants to redeem and deliver his people but they have run from God. They chose to run to their own destruction rather than running to the Lord. Look at verse 14.
They do not cry to me from the heart, but they wail upon their beds; for grain and wine they gash themselves; they rebel against me. (Hosea 7:14 ESV)
The people cry, but they do not cry from the heart. The people cry, but they do not cry for the Lord. They cry because they lost their possessions. The people cry about lost prosperity. They do not cry about losing God. They are not crying about the loss of the relationship with God as God has declared that they are not his people. No, they are crying about their possessions. The time they cry is when they losing their wealth. What matters to the people is their prosperity, not their spirituality. In verse 16 God says that the people turn, but not to him. They turn to try to get their life back to the way it was. They turn to try to keep their possessions but they do not turn because they want God.
God says he would heal and he would redeem the people. But there was a problem that keeps God from healing the people. The problem is false repentance. He does not want love that is like a morning cloud that quickly disappears (6:4). God does not words. God does not want external conformity. God wants steadfast love (6:6). God wants our hearts and wants our loyalty. God will restore and heal us if we would simply stop chasing our desires. God wants us to cry to him from our hearts, not for our stuff.
Think about the kind of healing we want. Do our prayers reflect that we want the restoration of our former life, whatever earthly thing that we have lost? Or do our prayers reflect that we want the restoration of God in our lives? Do we cry more about our sins or about the physical things we want or have lost? How steadfast is our devotion to the Lord? Do we say today that we will change and we will repent and that God will heal us only to then see us do what we have always done on Monday like we did the week before? Do we say we will change but not change? Or do we say that we will change and then truly change? God wants our faithful devotion to him that truly changes and does not say the things that we think God wants to hear. Jesus’ words must ring into our hearts. “I desire steadfast love and mercy, not sacrifice.” God does not want the show. God wants our devotion.
Are we making it impossible for God to heal us and change our lives because we continue to run after our own desires? God can heal you. God wants to heal you. But you have to come to the great physician and follow his prescription, not your own. We cannot tell him how to heal us. He will heal but you have to listen to what he says and take the medication he is prescribing you. False repentance keeps us from the healing God offers.